Sunday, September 9, 2007

Long Weekend

When the clock struck zero and Coastal Carolina suffered its first defeat at the hands of Delaware State (23-18), CCU fans had to be frustrated by being on the 20 yard line and running out of time before gettting off a final play or two to the end zone. Tyler Thigpen was a master of the two minute drill. There's no question that if he was under center, CCU would have won the game. That's not a knock on the other CCU quarterbacks - that's why Thig is in the NFL. Will Richardson had 66 yards to cover in 1:35 with no timeouts and unforunately, ran out of time.
During football season, I feel like we have 99 yards to go in about a minute. Time management is the single greatest challenge I have from August through December. Take last weekend for example:

9:30 am - radio appearance on 100.1's Bad Boy show to preview Friday night's football games
I'm usually pretty tired when I get on the radio, but when you hear those matchups you start to get geared up for a big Friday of football. I'm real appreciative of Alan Smothers and the opportunity to promote our show and magazine.

11:00 am - run through of upcoming issue of Palmetto Pigskin Preview and organize weekend's work
32 pages of material have to be done by Monday evening and off to the printer first thing on Tuesday. We usually have some of our feature pages done by now (Ben and Jerry's Unsung Hero, Palmetto Pigskin Spotlight, etc).

1:30 pm - arrive at TV station, begin preparations for Friday night End Zone
This is our gameday. Usually, we're just making sure we have everything in order. We're giving directions, checking our rosters and doing any other prep work that we may need to do. I always tape a pre-game radio report for WCRE in Cheraw. Mitch and George do an awesome job up there.

6:20 pm - anchor 6pm sportscast
6:35 pm - tape 10pm sportscast for CW 21
6:45 pm - depart for Conway at Socastee game
I'm hoping for highlights. The fact of the matter is that we have a short window (for me it's the first half only). You want to be able to have enough highlights to spotlight as many kids as possible. There's nothing more stressful than having to leave a game when it's 0-0.
7:30 pm - shoot highlights of Conway/Socastee game
8:30 pm - return to station with highlights
Socastee hung tough in the first half. We got a good Braves drive for a TD along with two Conway TD's (Thanks Dakota Derrick!) and a Logan Heaps field goal.
8:45 pm - edit highlights of photographers returning to studio
This is stressful. We've got 16 games. On the drive back, I find out we had a camera not working in Turbeville. That means no Johnsonville-East Clarendon highlights. I feel awful that we can't show hilites from those two great towns. Now we have 15 games to edit. I march into the station and crank out the Conway/Socastee higlights then wait for the troops to come in. I get my hands on Hemingway at Waccamaw, South Florence/Wilson, Dillon at Latta, Lake City at North Myrtle Beach, West Brunswick at Myrtle Beach, Timmonsville at Mullins, Aynor at Green Sea-Floyds, South Columbus at Loris. Mark Haggard flies in with two games (Georgetown at Andrews, Carolina Forest at Carvers Bay). Allyson Floyd is taking the scores. We take a feed from Florence with four games. We're always chasing scores. We don't get the Carolina Forest score until 11:05 - 30 seconds later the South/Wilson game comes in. My head is spinning when I get out on the set and I hope that it all comes together.
11:15 pm - anchor Chevy End Zone
Not our best show. We had bad highlights at Darlington/Cheraw and Mullins/Timmonsville. Then I make a plenty big mistake. William Lee had an awesome game for Myrtle Beach high and I call him Michael Lee. This is the kind of stuff I beat myself up about. Fortunately, I was able to get him on and correct his name and give him his proper due. We don't want to just throw football highlights up there. We want to tell a story and give all of our towns, big and small, their moment in the sun. We're the SportsCenter of high school football. We want to go in depth and provide entertaining and informative highlights. Over the next three hours, Hags and I will stew and work while trying to figure out how to make things a little better. I imagine coaches do the same thing.

12:15 am - capture show on to internet, post scores on
1:00 am - take every game we shot and transfer to internet
The internet is important and we do everything we can to get as much information online as we can. We take great pride that you can log on to our website and get your team's highlights on demand as well as a look at their schedule and results and the ability to go back and look at any of your team's highlights. Then we have a stats page that lists the top 25 players in each category and our high school previews posted from the pages of Palmetto Pigskin Preview.

2:00 am - update team stats, standings pages on, provide matchup list for graphics department for next week's show
2:45 am - pack camera gear for trip to Delaware
Hags and I always say we're going to be all business so I can get out early and get that extra hour or so of sleep. It never works out. We always want to do better. You have to put the show behind you now and get ready for the next phase of the weekend.
3:10 am - leave tv station for home

9:15 am - arrive at airport for flight to Washington, DC with wingman Ed Piotrowski
I'd probably be in a ditch if it wasn't for Ed. He's probably been to 90 percent of the road trips I've gone on with CCU and it's always a good time. We quickly realize the camera equipment is too big to carry on the plane, but we are able to get the flight attendant's area and stow the camera in a safe position (Thanks USAir!)
10:30 am - depart Myrtle Beach airport for CCU football trip
12:00 pm - arrive in Washington, DC
The original plan is to connect to Philadelphia, but we realize that we were rolling the dice with the camera stuff and we decide no go on Philly and to just rent a car in DC. We stand on line and right out of the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, the oddysey begins. After waiting in line for 20 minutes at Hertz, we find out they only have a minivan for $200. $200 for a 90 mile drive? We can get a limo for that, I think. We walk away from this and shop around. After waiting in a couple of lines, we learn it's Labor Day and there aren't many rental cars available. We get excited that there is a mid size available for a good price, but they don't have a drop off in Dover. We get all the way back to Hertz. A different teller gives us the minivan for $137? How did we save $63? I'll never know. Nearly ninety minutes later, we've got a minivan.
1:15 pm - secure rental car - begin car ride to Dover, Delaware
This is where I seriously considered starting to tape this and make it a reality show. We grab a KIA Minivan. Picture me and Ed P in a minivan. We're cracking up talking about what a babe magnet this is. We pull out and are told that we have the wrong rental car! We were one spot off. So we upgrade from the KIA to a Grand Caravan and we're off! We get text updates that App State is beating Michigan and spend a good portion of the trip trying to come to the realization that App is shocking the world.
3:00 pm - arrive in Dover, Delaware
3:15 pm - pre-game meal at Chicago Pizza Uno
The stadium is right on the main road, so we go across the street and get our first food of the day. Vegetable soup was a solid "A". The football stadium is right across the street from the Monster Mile, home of Dover's NASCAR Nextel Cup race. I notice that there is a casino attached to the track. This intrigues me. I talk Ed into making a side trip. We get there a little after 4:15 and I know we have about an hour before we need to get the rental car back and a taxi over to the stadium. After quickly losing $20, I find a 7 way blackjack video machine. With wingman Ed coaching along, we turned $20 into $170. You would have thought we won a million dollars the way we were carrying on. 5:15 we cashed out and then headed to the rental car place.

5:30 pm - drop off rental car at Hertz, get cab to pick us up and take us to stadium
6:05 pm - arrive at Delaware State for CCU opening game
7:00 pm - shoot highlights from top of roof on press box of CCU at Delaware State for David Bennett Show
We're on the roof and got to spend some quality time with Sam Harper, the former Chants defensive end who's now a graduate assistant. It's a great vantage point to watch the game. The CCU defense played well with the exception of four plays and the offense took a while to get on track. The field was a new kind of turf and it looked ugly. That translated to TV. I don't know why Eric O'Neal didn't get his crack until the 4th quarter. You just got the feeling that it wasn't meant to be for CCU.
10:15 pm - head to the field to get post-game reaction
10:30 pm - get the news that charter plane is to leave 1 hour late (1am)
We were able to fly back on the CCU charter. This beats the alternative which is an all night drive back to Conway and less than 2 hours before taping. The plane was scheduled to take off at midnight, but was pushed back to 1am. Had a great talk with Drew Watson, CCU's secondary coach who informed us that Quinton Teal made the Carolina Panthers 53 man roster. It's an amazing accomplishment. Coach Bennett makes sure that there's not a single piece of garbage on the floor of the visitor's locker room. Even when it's a tough loss, you can see why so many people look up to the coach. Finally at 12:15, five buses roll out on the way to Dover Air Force base. Melanie Bennett, the Laura Bush of CCU football, informs us that there's no laughing on the bus following a loss.
12:45 am - arrive at Dover Air Force Base to wait for plane
Now the night is starting to feel long. Ed and I argue for about 10 minutes if a speck of light near the runway is a plane. Ed eventually was right and a big 737 that took Florida International from Penn State to Miami is now in Dover to pick up the CCU contingent.
1:30 am - depart Delaware for Myrtle Beach on CCU charter plane
Ren McKinnon is a warrior. The injured CCU quarterback is on crutches and you would never know that he has dislocated his hip. His career is over and I'm sure he spent much of that flight thinking about that. Sometimes sports is not fair. Ren spent the better part of a year coming back from an injured ankle to get back on the field and his redshirt senior season will last all of 2 and a half quarters. The plane is quiet as can be except for the rustling of bags filled with sandwiches, chips, cookies and bananas. It might have been a little more lively if CCU had a win. When you're running on fatigue, 45 minute naps can feel like 8 hours. That's what I got on the plane.
2:45 am - arrive at Myrtle Beach International Airport
3:15 am - receive camera and tripod from baggage claim
Ed says goodbye and now it's time for the second wind to kick in and get to work on the David Bennett show.
3:30 am - arrive at WPDE studios, begin to edit the David Bennett Show
Hags is at the studio working on some magazine stuff and feeling bad about not getting South Carolina highlghts (I could write a whole seperate blog on that!)
I start cranking out the highlights - going through play by play and pick anything of significance that we can talk about. After laying in about 25 plays, I crank out some post-game reaction and then begin to enter graphics information. Hags took off at about 4:30 am.
6:30 am - complete editing of the Bennett show
I made the quick trip home to try and get my bearings.
6:45 am - 90 minute nap!
This is usually a big mistake. I needed to stay awake, but I had to stay quiet in the house and put my head down - ballgame.
7:30 am - wake up, shower and head back to the studio
This is the absolute worst! I should have never taken that cat nap. This is where you really have to rally.
7:55 am - McDonald's breakfast biscuits
This is a tradition. One week back in season two, I forgot to bring them and coach joked around about it - haven't forgotten since.
8:05 am - arrive at WPDE studios
8:30 am - Coach Bennett arrives
Coach and I go into the edit bay and look at the highlights. The losses always wear on the coaches, and coach Bennett is no different. He likes to stop certain plays and look at them frame by frame. This is the best part of my job. To have an elite coach giving you football 101 and breaking down film of a game. It doesn't get any better than that.
9:00 am - begin taping of David Bennett Show
The goal here, especially after a loss, is to have the smoothest show possible and get in and out. That more or less happened. We were a little bit heavy and had to edit out a PSA or two on the back end, but we were able to have a good show. Some coaches shows are University shills and you can't ask tough questions. Coach Bennett gives me the green light to ask anything. I addressed the Jerome Simpson assault issue and coach gave some great answers. We also looked at the Jamie Childers redshirt issue with Ren McKinnon out for the year.
10:20 am - Coach's Blog for Palmetto Pigskin Preview
Coach sits down next to my computer and I start typing and he starts talking. It's always a great column and some pretty neat insight. Coach takes off at about 10:45 am.
11:05 am - depart WPDE studio
11:30 am - frantic call to our Master Control!
Find out thanks to cable TIVO that the Bennett Show isn't on the rundown on WPDE. I make a frantic call to our Master Control and tell them to make sure the coach's show airs. Imagine all that work and all that travelling and no show. It all works out and the show airs.
12:00 pm - nap
3:45 pm - return to WPDE for Gamecocks feed
5:00 pm - write issue #3 Palmetto Pigskin
Here's the last leg of the triathlon. Hags does an awesome job with the high school info and I slide those into the 34 sections of the magazine. Then it's writing a CCU, Gamecocks, Clemson and Panthers preview along with filling agate information from high school and college. When it's all said and done, it's a 10-12 hour process on Sunday's depending on my energy level. When CCU is at home, I can usually squeeze in 3 hours on Saturday and get Sunday done in 8 hours.
3:45 am - go to bed!

I get a good seven hours of sleep and then it starts all over again, starting with gathering high school football stats, setting the stage for the week in sports and getting the rundown in place for next week's shows. Then when I get home before midnight, it's one last look through the magazine before it heads to press. You have to love what you do to get through this 12 weeks a year. During football season, it takes a little bit longer to return voice mails and answer emails. Like CCU's quarterbacks, I'm trying to manage that clock the best I can. We are truly flattered by all the folks who take the time to watch our coverage of both high school and college football. I hope this blog shows how much effort we put in and try to deliver the best coverage to our viewers and readers. The clock's ticking - I've got to go - another